A birds’ nest lies on its side by our pond. There is no sign of its occupants. Its elaborate engineering is evidenced in the uneven straw and dead grass of the exterior. But the inner hollow is billiard-smooth, about the size of the a soup ladle’s bowl. Nearby, fragments of moss lie where they fell as the nest was dislodged. Overhead red kites soar and glide and ride the wind, quartering the fields and gardens below, looking for food: small creatures, carrion and the occasional piece of raw meat left out for them by a householder. Their aerodynamics are utterly beautiful.
It’s not been a merry first of May. We’ve had heavy rain for most of April and today is overcast. But the cornfields are green and lush and culverts and streams feeding the town’s river run fast. I haven’t heard whether the Morris Dancers performed on the village green soon after dawn. I’m pretty sure they did though, and that the Three Horseshoes will have been open to give them breakfast. And, 14 miles away, the choir will have greeted the dawn at the top of Oxford’s Magdalen College Tower.
On the by-pass here the ox-eye daisies are about to come into bloom. The first buds of Queen Anne’s Lace have appeared. The hawthorn thickets are in leaf, and at the entrance to the town the candle blooms of a massive horse chestnut are about to flower.
Another May. Year on year I thank God for this month – and for our living to see it, Mrs Llew and me. And I think of our family, of Maytimes long gone, and of a warm, secure house where we lived and our young grew to adulthood.
And where, somewhere, a predator (without the beauty of a red kite) waited.